WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Angus King released the following statement after the United States Senate advanced the Respect For Marriage Act on a bipartisan 62-37 vote. The bill, cosponsored by King, expands federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriages by requiring federal recognition of valid state marriages. The bill also guarantees that all marriages are given full legal status regardless of the couple’s sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin.

“Marriage is one of life’s great gifts; it brings companionship, support, love, and joy. The decision to get married is a deeply personal choice between two people who love each other, it’s not an easy decision, and it’s not one where the government should have a say,” said King. “The Respect For Marriage Act is a historic, long-overdue step to ensure Americans can marry the person they love without government interference while receiving significant tax and other benefits that come from the legally recognized partnerships.

“My decades-long marriage to my wife has been among the greatest privileges of my life. We were lucky that that our marriage did not face legal barriers, and there shouldn’t be for others who share the same love. Maine has long understood this fundamental right – it’s why we were the first state in the nation to legalize same-sex civil marriage by popular vote, and it’s why I’m a proud cosponsor of this bipartisan legislation.

“It’s unfortunate that a law protecting the right to marry the person you love is even necessary. But with an activist Supreme Court that has repeatedly imposed their own religious views on the country and indicated it was open to reconsidering marriage equality rights, I feel this effort was critical to defend current and future loving couples. I’m deeply grateful that the Senate was able to come together and craft a commonsense, bipartisan law that carefully enshrines the right to same-sex and interracial marriage while respecting religious freedoms.”

The Respect for Marriage Act will:

Require the federal government to recognize a marriage between two individuals if the marriage was valid in the state where it was performed.

Guarantee that valid marriages between two individuals are given full faith and credit, regardless of the couple’s sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin, but the bill would not require a State to issue a marriage license contrary to state law.